2001: FEMA designates a major hurricane hitting New Orleans as one of the three "likeliest, most catastrophic disasters facing this country."
December 2002: After less than two years at FEMA, Allbaugh announces he is leaving to start up a consulting firm that advises companies seeking to do business in Iraq. He is succeeded by his deputy, Michael Brown, who, like Allbaugh, has no previous experience in disaster management.
March 2003: FEMA is downgraded from a cabinet level position and folded into the Department of Homeland Security. Its mission is refocused on fighting acts of terrorism.
Darned if that doesn't look like every corporate reshuffle I've ever survived. This is corporate thinking at work, and as is nearly always the case with corporate thinking, the guys at the bottom get the shaft, while the CEOs move on to better positions and leave their sycophantic buttboys to maintain the status quo. Or maybe even do a little more reshuffling, renaming, lots of meetings, a shitload of jargon about new paradigms and proactivity and campaign launching, but really, it's just a bunch of usually white guys who sign pieces of paper but never do a fucking lick of actual work in their lives, just trying to make the stock prices go up, and the worker bees who lose their livelihoods so all the little Hunter Hilton III's and Genevieve Waldorf's can go to the same pre-school Mumsy and Daddums attended are just a bonus - we lowered the payroll by a million dollars, the shareholders will be ever so pleased!
This is what we get with a corporate administration in the White House. Talentless hacks who were born into the right kind of family and went to the right kind of schools and manage to convince people that they are getting the job done.
Another thought that occurred to me this evening is that NOLA is like Africa right now - people are donating, people are looking for a way to help, but we can see from the eyewitness reports, the pictures on the news that no help seems to be reaching the people who need it. Every time I read stories about what is happening in Africa, I immediately look for how I can help, who can I send a few dollars to...and I inevitably hear that there is almost no point, because the aid doesn't get to the people who need it. I was reading about tourists who scraped together $25K to hire buses, but the buses were commandeered by the military. People in NOLA are told to go to the Convention Center for help, but there is a scene right out of freaking Bosch waiting for them - how could these people not lose hope? Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter - isn't that what the door to hell says?
All the comfortable wingers in their New York apartments and D.C. townhouses and Dallas mansions are surely tut-tutting the acts of those who are left behind in NOLA - "looters should be shot on sight!" They lack both the imagination and the empathy to put themselves in the shoes of these people, because they want to believe that they are better than that, that they are above such depravity.
If I had no food, no water, no electricity, no car, no means of escape, I'd be the first one to throw the garbage can through the window of the 7-11. I'd feel guilty about it, because I was raised Catholic, but I have children, and I want them to survive. The people who are clutching their pearls about looters...these are people who get itchy if the server takes too long delivering their drinks to the table.
If Peggy Noonan or Jonah Goldberg were at the Convention Center, they'd be pushing elderly infirm people and starving children out of the way if a truck carrying water swung by. If they were trapped in their dwelling with no resources, they would be looting left and right, and then after they were rescued, they would probably write a book about how their courageous actions helped them survive the disaster.
Right now, for the people in New Orleans, it looks like a sucker bet to do as you're told and then help will be on the way. Yeah, there are actual evil people who are taking advantage of the human misery, but most of these people are just average folks who have the distinct disadvantage of being born black and poor, and they are trying to survive. They are fighting for their lives, and anyone who says they would be different, that they would just wait patiently without a complaint until the cavalry rode in is either a sucker or a liar.